Thomas Edison’s first commercial hydroelectric power begins operations 1882
The Vulcan Street Plant was the first Edison hydroelectric central station. The plant was built on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin, and put into operation on September 30, 1882.
According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Vulcan Street plant is considered to be “the first hydro-electric central station to serve a system of private and commercial customers in North America”.
The original electric distribution lines in Appleton were made of bare copper. This posed many challenges in the early development of commercial electricity, because just about everything was made out of wood or other flammable materials.
The wiring used in buildings was insulated by a thin layer of cotton and was fastened to walls using wood cleats. Likewise, wood was used for fuse boxes, light sockets, and switch handles.
Extra Note: The Vulcan Street Plant was housed in the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company building, which burned to the ground in 1891.
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